I’m not truly amazed very often. So when I am filled with “sudden wonder,” I have to talk about it.
A month or so ago, I wrote about my mother’s early breast cancer diagnosis and described the wait during her first surgery:
On the same floor of the surgery center were the offices for the American Cancer Society, the P.E.T. scan center, the breast surgery reconstruction center, etc. Women of all ages, shapes, and sizes were walking or shuffling past me, many accompanied by the steady arm of a friend or relative. Almost all of them had lost their hair. But what struck me is that most, if not all of them had this fierce determination about them. In their eyes. Their faces. The way they carried their tired bodies. And I began to feel ashamed for my tirade against Eve.
As I was standing against a wall, contemplating this, a little lady, possibly in her early 60′s, walked through the main doors. She was bald and wearing these sassy, dangling earrings. And she was wearing a hot pink t-shirt that read: “Yes, these are fake. Mine tried to kill me.” She smiled at me as she walked past. On the back side of the t-shirt was “Attitude is everything.”
I’ve often thought of this woman. She changed my entire outlook and attitude in her simple passing. I felt if my mother and I could have a third of this woman’s attitude, we would be golden. Cancer would not win.
Amazing, yes. But not truly amazing. Not yet.
As part of my job with the university, I visit donors and alumni, people who have given to the university or included in their estate plans. I consider myself the thank-you wagon. During Christmas, I pack up my car with poinsettias and boxes of goodness from the Nifty Nut House and spread some holiday cheer.
There was one particular woman I wanted to visit. I’d not been able to connect with her and I knew she was having a hard time. She’d recently lost her husband and had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She’d agreed to meet me, although briefly, explaining she just didn’t have the energy for visitors.
I arrived at her home. Rang the bell. And she answered. I stood there for what seemed an eternity, while it was probably only 30 seconds. 30 LONG seconds.
It was her. Her. Or was it?
She could tell I was out of sorts, so she invited me in, gratefully took the poinsettia I offered, and asked me to sit. After some very awkward small talk, I had to ask. I explained that what I was about to ask her was a little off the wall, especially if she was not the person I thought she was. She seem intrigued.
“Okay, go ahead and ask.”
“Do you own a bright pink t-shirt that reads ‘Yes, these are fake…”
“…mine tried to kill me.’ Of course, I do. How did you know?”
So I told her. In detail I described that day and how she had inspired me. She sat watching me, her smile spreading across her face, the fuzz of her hair glinting in the light of the sun peeking through the sliding glass doors, her turquoise dangling earrings winking at me.
I ended up visiting with her for an hour. We talked about her battle, my mother’s outlook, and the obstacles of life. She told me when she was first diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, she told her family not to cry, not to blame, no anger, no tears. Her motto’s are: “Attitude is everything,” and “Cancer may kill me, but not today.”
When it was time to go, we hugged. And she told me she was glad we met…again.
Life is at its best when we are filled with sudden wonder. When we are truly amazed.